Wednesday, May 6, 2009

RATZINGER REPORT: Like Fine Wine, Aged thus Augmented

Between stale draughts of homemade liturgical innovation, 'tis good to sip some salient words on the liturgy from the erstwhile Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI:

The liturgy is not a show, a spectacle, requiring brilliant producers and talented actors.  The life of the liturgy does not consist in 'pleasant' surprises and attractive 'ideas' but in solemn repetitions.  It cannot be an expression of what is current and transitory, for it expresses the mystery of the Holy.

Many people have felt and said that liturgy must be 'made' by the whole community if it is really to belong to them.  Such an attitude has led to the 'success' of the liturgy being measured by its effect at the level of spectacle and entertainment.  It is to lose sight of what is distinctive to the liturgy, which does not come from what we do but from the fact that something is taking place here that all of us together cannot 'make'.  In the liturgy there is a power, an energy at work which not even the Church as a whole can generate: what it manifests is the Wholly Other, coming to us through the community (which is hence not sovereign but servant, purely instrumental).

Liturgy, for the Catholic, is his common homeland, the source of his identity.  And another reason why it must be something 'given' and 'constant' is that, by means of the ritual, it manifests the holiness of God.  The revolt against what has been described as 'the old rubricist rigidity', which was accused of stifling 'creativity', has in fact made the liturgy into a do-it-yourself patchwork and trivialized it, adapting it to our mediocrity.

-- The Ratzinger Report, p. 126, Ignatius Press, 1985.

Please pray for Pope Benedict and the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.


  1. Wow, no one can say things like this beter than Pope Benedict. He is a master at describing what most of us just have never heard or have just accepted as the "McDonald's fare" of the Mass in many places today. We do need to pray for Holy, well formed priests who will know what the Mass is truly about.

  2. I am a new reader of your blog. One technical comment, the red lettering is very difficult for me to read against the blue background.

    On a more substantative note, how sad all the confusion that the "pastoral team" approach has caused. I read your post about the availability of Holy Mass 12 miles away from a communion service on a Sunday. Where I live, in the lower 48, a 12-mile drive is not prohibitive distance to travel either.

    May God bless you and your blog.